The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has awarded the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work (GCSW) $2.6 million to fund scholarships to support graduate students from disadvantaged backgrounds as they work to become social workers.
“Houston and Harris County are home to both the best medical care facilities in the country and the lowest numbers people with access to health care and insurance,” said Amber Mollhagen, director of admissions and student affairs in the GCSW. “This program is responsive by recruiting disadvantaged students, familiar with the plight of their communities and training them to become culturally competent clinical social workers.”
The four-year grant will fund 26 full-time students in a program called SHINE, Students in behavioral Health INcreasing diversity in Education and the workplace.
SHINE students will receive $25,000 to cover tuition, fees, living expenses and health insurance. They’ll also receive special advising, mentoring and support from the college’s staff and faculty. At the end of the first year, the student will have an opportunity to apply for a second year.
“The rapidly growing and changing demographics in Houston and Texas means the demand for mental and behavioral health professionals outweighs the supply,” she said. “This grant addresses both the shortage of social workers and diversity in the profession. It provides a unique opportunity to educate future service providers grounded in social work’s core values, which include service, social justice, dignity and worth of all people, importance of human relationships, integrity and competence.”
It is estimated that more than half a million social workers are needed now in the profession — to recruit and retain. The SHINE program builds on other initiatives at the college that strive to build the pool of diverse, culturally competent social work clinicians.